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The Birdie tries to wrap his beak around Week Zero matchups in A-K Valley

| Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, 9:06 p.m.

Three years in, The Birdie still can’t wrap his mind around the concept of Week Zero.

“Course, I’ve been called small-minded before,” he said. “A birdbrain, even. But I don’t think that’s fair in this case. I just don’t get why there’s this in-between week where some teams are playing and some are scrimmaging.”

The Birdie concedes there are good parts to Week Zero.

For one, it saved the nearly 40-year-old Burrell-Valley rivalry after the Bucs and Vikings were separated by realignment: “Can’t imagine a year without a Battle of the Bypass,” he said.

For another, it gives teams a chance to get ready for the season with conference games starting in Week 1.

But what gives The Birdie pause is the fact that not everybody is playing.

“It’s the will-they-or-won’t-they stuff that bugs me,” he said. “This isn’t ‘Friends.’ Just make it mandatory and get it over with,” he said. “Heck, it seems like some teams can’t decide whether they like it or not, either. Teams that played Week Zero in the past aren’t doing it this year, and others are. If they can’t decide, how am I supposed to?”

Just like the teams on Friday, there might be a feeling-out process for The Birdie in Week Zero as teams play for the first time.

“They at least had a scrimmage last week,” he said. “I didn’t get that, although I tried. I went to Riverside Park to see if I could get some snaps in Riverview’s scrimmage against Deer Lakes, but nobody was there. Then I went to Owens Field to try to get into Apollo-Ridge’s scrimmage against Freeport, but they weren’t there, either. Wish I’d known they’d be swapping venues. I don’t have a little birdie to tell me anything.”

Scrimmage or not, The Birdie hopes he can find his midseason form in Week Zero.

Allderdice at Kiski Area

The ‘Dice came up winners last season, capturing the City League title for the first time in 50 years, but many of the team’s key contributors graduated. Kiski Area will be motivated in its first on-campus game and will slay the Dragons with Dick Dilts in attendance.

Kiski Area, 21-13

Fox Chapel at Baldwin

The Foxes and Highlanders played a tight game a season ago, when Fox Chapel had an explosive, experienced offense. With many of those players gone, Baldwin will get the win this time.

Baldwin, 14-13

Highlands at Plum

Both teams are breaking in new players on the line and at the skill positions, but the Mustangs’ physicality should eventually wear down the Golden Rams.

Plum, 17-14

Knoch at Hampton

Both teams are looking for a better season after disappointing finishes in 2017. Knoch is missing some key starters, but the Knights’ triple option can be tricky to stop.

Knoch, 21-14

Leechburg at Apollo-Ridge

The Blue Devils have high hopes even after a winless season thanks to a lot of returning talent and an offseason in the weight room. But Apollo-Ridge’s fab freshmen are now super sophomores, and they’ll be ready to go in this rivalry game.

Apollo-Ridge, 28-7

Valley at Burrell

The Vikings have owned the Bypass for the last five years, giving them plenty to brag about. “They may not be in the same conference anymore, but try telling Burrell this one doesn’t matter,” The Birdie said. New coach Shawn Liotta is promising excitement at Burrell, but Valley’s physicality will win out in this one.

Valley, 27-17

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